Anti-narcotics operatives take an inventory of shabu supposedly seized in the house of Diana Yu Uy (inset) in San Miguel, Manila in this Nov. 6, 2017 photo.
KJ Rosales
YEARENDER : Drug war on trial in lower courts
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2018 - 12:00am

(Second of two parts)

MANILA, Philippines — While the Commission on Human Rights lauded the cases of Kian delos Santos and Francisco Maneja Jr. as landmark  decisions that disprove police claims of “nanlaban,” still another decision by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 49 Judge Daniel Villanueva centered this time on the practice of planting of evidence in the case filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against Diana Yu Uy, the daughter of convicted drug queen Yu Yuk Lai, who is serving her sentence at the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW).

PDEA accused Uy of helping her mother carry out her illegal drug activities by smuggling drugs into the CIW and claimed to have confiscated 682.9 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu at Uy’s condominium unit in San Miguel, Manila on Nov. 6, 2017.

Villanueva found the PDEA’s version of events “absurd, against common experience of mankind, not at all in the natural course of things,” and unworthy even of being a “movie plot, not even if the same belongs to the fantasy comedy genre.”

The judge struck down as unmeritorous the PDEA’s version of events, such as the allegation that Uy and her bodyguards smuggled illegal drugs into the CIW on Oct. 8, 2017 because Uy’s name was not on the list of visitors that day.

Villanueva also refused to believe PDEA’s claim that Uy handed agent Jeffrey Baguidudol a free sample of shabu valued at P20,000, saying the allegation was “incredible” and “not worthy of belief.”

The judge also found as “highly illegal and irregular” the PDEA clearing team’s search of Uy’s condominium for an hour before barangay officials arrived for the implementation of the search warrant.

Villanueva found this gave them enough time not only to plant the confiscated shabu, but also tamper with the closed-circuit television footage in the unit.

The alleged drugs were not discovered by drug-sniffing dogs but by Baguidudol, allegedly in the back of Uy’s money vault.

PDEA officials and PDEA chief Aaron Aquino also reported differing weights of the shabu seized from Uy.

Aquino announced in a press conference that the confiscated shabu weighed two kilos and was valued at P10 million. The PDEA Special Enforcement Service report placed the weight at one and a half kilos. The PDEA chemist’s report placed it at 682.9 grams, the eventual weight of shabu indicated in the criminal information filed in court.

The judge also found flimsy the PDEA’s claim that the drug-sniffing dogs did not detect the drugs in Yu’s condominium unit because the perfume and the kitchen condiments in the air confused the dogs.

What most alarmed the judge is the allegation that the PDEA agents returned to the condo unit after the search, pointed their guns at Uy’s sister and carted away the DVR and hard drive of the Uys’ CCTV cameras, which were already pointed at the wall.

The judge said PDEA took away the footage to destroy evidence that could point to their planting of evidence and to another allegation by Uy against PDEA: that another agent, Wenifredo Alagabia Jr., took P500,000 in bribe money from Uy after the PDEA arrested her while she was bringing her son to school in a van.

Villanueva’s decision so riled Aquino that the PDEA chief called a press briefing to deny the planting of evidence allegation and vowed to file a petition for review of the judge’s ruling.

Precedent

Lawyer Krissy Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) told The STAR that Villanueva’s decision finding planting of evidence should help less privileged victims of such a practice in the drug war.

“Police operations are heavily circumscribed by rules and procedure. What we saw in (Oplan) Tokhang was the complete disregard of these rules, and reliance on ‘nakagawian’ and ‘ito po ang order e.’ The judiciary functions now to correct these acts, violations and abuses,” Conti said.

NUPL’s Edre Olalia noted that these celebrated and controversial decisions bringing to light the government’s conduct of the war on drugs do not translate into a perception that the Philippine judicial system is effective in bringing justice to victims of police abuses.

It is a view that Malacañang has put forward in arguing that the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over the crimes against humanity complaint filed by families of extrajudicial killing (EJK)  victims against President Duterte.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has opened a preliminary examination into the 52 communications filed before her office over the war on drugs.

This includes the complaint filed against Duterte by families of EJK victims in Manila, Caloocan and Quezon City.

Bensouda has also said that the ICC has jurisdiction over the case despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute because the alleged crimes happened during the period the Philippines was still a state party.

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DIANA YU KIAN DELOS SANTOS
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